Ca. 1850. Octavo. Original gold-stamped cloth binding, with the initials “J.M.H.L.” With considerable wear, but still very attractive. 125 prints. Occasional staining and foxing, but generally very clean interior.
“The early decades of the nineteenth century,..., saw a growing demand for literary annuals and gift books illustrated with etchings and engravings...Great attention was paid to their appearance. Bindings were ornately embossed and heavily gilt; some had slip-cases and ribbon ties. They contained short stories, essays and poetry of a lightly entertaining nature although the text was always subsidiary to the engraved pictures. Their very titles suggested their purpose as gifts, tokens, souvenirs, mementos or keepsakes.” (M. Felmingham, The Illustrated Gift Book, p.1) This particular gift book, with 125 prints, contains no text at all. Though entitled Engravings, it includes lithographs and wood engravings as well as the more usual steel engravings. Most of the prints are uncolored, though some have original hand or printed color. Many of the images come from issues of Godey’s Ladies Magazine, but it also contains prints from other publications. The majority of the images have a genre subject, but also included are portraits, religious themes, views and historical images. This volume is a wonderful example of both the gift book form and of the many types of prints which appeared in publications during the mid-nineteenth century.